Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Papua New Guinea Speaker breaks silence over removal of carvings

Papua New Guinea Speaker breaks silence over removal of carvings

Wednesday 18 December 2013, by siawi3

Source: PACNEWS 2: Mon 16 Dec 2013

PORT MORESBY, 16 DECEMBER 2013 (POST COURIER) --- The Papua New Guinea Parliament House committee which comprises five MPs and chaired by Speaker Theo Zurenuoc had come up with a special project over a period of time aimed at “uniting” the country.

And the removal of the carved lintels at the entrance of the Parliament House and the four-tonne totem pole in the Grand Hall, which has caused a controversy last week, are part of the process.

Speaking to the Post-Courier, the heavily criticised MP said that to advance the unity of the country which had cultural diversity of 800 to 1000 tribal groupings and languages, one had to find a common denominator and the committee concluded that this denominator was “Christianity and faith in God”.

“Many people confess to be Christians; it is this faith that unites and because we subscribe to that and in our Constitution, it is relevant that we come up with something tangible,” said Zurenuoc.

He said the committee had come up with a new structure that would replace the totem pole. The structure would have a Bible, the Word of God, at the base (foundation), the national pledge and a flame at the top. Further details are in a diagram that will be given to the media later today and is one of the activities of the reformation process that had been talked about in Parliament.

He said the Parliament House committee, which was responsible for the parliament sittings and the infrastructure, had resolved to remove two specific objects in the Parliament, which were the totem pole and the lintels and not everything.Zurenuoc said the deputy director of the National Museum and Gallery had been approached to take the carvings well in advance but he had refused.

“The deputy director of the National Museum and Gallery was called to the House if they could take the carvings. It was not easy for us to remove them. We thought it was the best option if they wanted the pieces of the objects but he did not agree,” he said.

Zurenuoc also said the designs on the carvings were not appropriate. "There is a great diversity in this country. How do you unite this nation of 1000 tribal groupings, languages. It’s quite difficult unless you have found a common denominator. We have openly confessed our Christian faith, embraced in our Constitution. We are building this in our monument,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, Papua New Guineans know that carvings in villages were carved with something in mind such as a god of fish, river, and so on.

Meanwhile, in response to calls by people including MPs for his removal as the Speaker he says this is because these people do not understand what the Parliament House committee is doing, but if they do they will reconsider. “I think that is based on lack of understanding. I think if they do understand, they will reconsider,” he said.....